20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 25 August 2018

Logan's run

Over the last few years, late August has become synonymous with one of the group's Extra rides deep into East Lothian, with lunch taken at the Merryhatton Garden Centre. Our great friend and one of the group's true characters, the late Logan Strang always led this delightful ride. Just like last year (the year we lost him), today's leader felt more like he was caretaker on a ride that will always belong to Logan, rather than being the true leader. As seems to be the norm for this ride, we were blessed with lovely weather. Not quite as warm as it might have been, but bright and sunny for most of the ride and a slight breeze - perfect cycling weather.

Whilst it was bright and sunny, it was slightly cooler as we waited for all the riders to arrive at the Fisherrow meeting point. The temperature had risen a few degrees by the time the nineteen riders were ready to depart. The leader's briefing contained a few words about Logan, before tips about riding safely on the couple of busy roads that lie ahead, and details of the route and lunch stop. Briefing over, we rolled away from Fisherrow and headed for the footbridge across the River Esk. Down Goose Green and we stopped at the blue arrow beside the Air Cadets hut. This was the first of two educational stops on today's ride. The leader said a few words explaining how Second World War bomber crews used the arrow for guidance whilst practicing hitting targets in the Firth of Forth, and how it had been restored in recent years by the Air Cadets. Leaving the arrow behind, we followed the path beside the race course and carried on to Prestonpans where we joined the road. Just past the empty space where the Cockenzie power station used to stand, we took the quiet back roads past Cockenzie and Port Seton harbours.
After following seafront cycle paths, we re-joined the road near the entrance to Port Seton caravan site. We took the quite busy coast road and as it swung inland after Gosford Bay, we pulled off the road for a sweetie and cake stop. A delightful little track through the woods took us to Aberlady; although some of the group opted to remain on the busy road. At Aberlady, we left the main road behind as a quiet residential road took us inland and away from the village. We emerged onto a quiet country road before turning off onto an even quieter country lane past Myreton Motor Museum. There followed a stretch on the busy B1377, before turning off onto a much more pleasant road at Drem railway station. A short time later saw us turning off into the Merryhatton Garden Centre - our lunch stop.

We often compliment Logan for discovering such a good lunch stop and building up a lovely ride around it. Once again it lived up to expectations and everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch. We began our return journey passing the East Fortune airfield runway and Scotland's National Museum of Flight. From there we made our way to the lovely village of Athelstaneford for our second educational stop of the day. The village is credited with being the home of the Scottish Saltire flag. We gathered round the information panel beside the church to read the story. One of the riders who had been there a number of times before, led a small group to go and view a two minute video on the subject in an outbuilding behind the church. Ten minutes later, the leader was dispatched to fetch them back so we could get moving again. Stragglers rounded up and we were on our way. Leaving the shelter of the village behind, we began to appreciate that we were heading into something of a headwind. It is not uncommon to encounter a headwind there that remains all the way back to Edinburgh, especially when returning along the coast road. Fortunately, that was not the case today. We passed the Hopetoun Monument before turning left on the A6137 towards Haddington. On a mainly flat route, this was our only real climb of the day. As the road flattened, we turned right on a quiet road that headed towards Longniddry. The group stretched out a little and an oversight by the leader meant a right turn was left without a rider marking it for those following. This resulted in several riders missing the turn and having to retrace their steps.
But once they made the turn, they were rewarded with a beautiful sweeping descent. Those waiting at the bottom could see how much those following had enjoyed it by the width of their grins! Regrouping, we headed off only to be accosted by a playful puppy who bounded out of a garden. It's doubtful he had seen so many bicycles before and obviously thought they were there to play with him. Eventually his owner managed to get a hand on his collar and we carried on our way. Taking the quiet lanes that ran paraellel with the railway, we bypassed Longniddry and arrived at a level crossing, We were delayed for several minutes as two trains went by. Once the barrier went up, we carefully crossed the A198 dual carriageway and joined the cycle path heading west. A lovely downhill stretch and we were in Port Seton. Taking the back roads past the two harbours, we retraced our outward route from the morning. As we approached Musselburgh, instead of following the path beside the race course, we rode through Levenhall Links Leisure Park and followed the path and sea wall back to the blue arrow at Goose Green. At the footbridge across the Esk, the leader declared the ride officially over. Some headed home whilst the remainder headed for post-ride coffee and ice cream at Luca's.

Lovely weather, a nice ride, good lunch stop and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. What more could anyone ask for? We were all left feeling we had done Logan proud.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Tuesday 21 August 2018

20-Milers Extra to Merryhatton this coming Saturday

We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (25th). Under Glenn's capable leadership, we'll be heading deep into East Lothian. The total distance will be 45 - 50 miles. There will be some short stretches that might be busy with traffic, but there should be no other difficulties. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, with only a few gentle hills.

Please keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs. We aim to maintain a slightly higher average speed - although not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your abilities, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Lunch venue

Our lunch stop will at the Merryhatton Garden Centre, where there is an above-average café serving a good range of light lunches (soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, etc.) as well as more substantial meals. As always, you have the option of bringing food for a picnic lunch if you prefer.

Time and place

The ride will start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. Fisherrow is about six miles from central Edinburgh. There are toilets available at the start point.

The ride is likely to finish between 4 and 5 pm.

Remember, you don't need to book in advance for this ride (or any of our rides). Just turn up and enjoy what promises to be another excellent day's cycling.

Saturday 11 August 2018

A March re-enactment; but without the freezing rain!

For today's 20 Milers outing the leader chose to do the same ride she led back in March. This is not
something the group usually does. But March's ride was blighted by some of the worst weather we have endured for quite some time - windy, freezing cold, continual heavy rain and the occasional blast of sleet. Perhaps not too surprising as it was just over a week after the Beast from the East had battered the country. It resulted in a low (but could easily have been considerably lower) turnout of just eleven riders. The weather contributed to two falls and a couple of riders abandoning before the end. It was clearly an interesting route; so this was take two. What a contrast! It was warm and it stayed dry. More overcast-bright than sunny, but no one seemed to mind. A turn out of 27 riders was very good, and great to see quite a few new faces in the mix.

Following a detailed briefing where the group was made aware of the pre-arranged muster points, Jenny led us through the Festival crowds towards the Innocent Tunnel. But instead of going through the tunnel, we made our way into Holyrood Park and whizzed down Queen's Drive. Turning right at St Margaret's Loch, we climbed the steep hill up to Dunsapie Loch. On this section the group became quite stretched out and we had to contend with quite a few cars on the narrow road. We regrouped and were able to enjoy views of the loch and down to the Forth. Back in March we could barely see as far as the loch! Having circled Arthur's Seat, we returned to the point at which we had entered the park and headed to Duddingston village. We followed Duddingston Road West to the traffic lights at Milton Road. Road works to lay new gas mains meant we couldn't simply wait for the traffic lights to turn green and head across the junction. Instead we had to dismount, walk along the pavement and cross Milton road as pedestrians. We regrouped at the gate leading into Figgate Park. We paused briefly at Figgate Pond, before leaving the park and heading down Brighton Place. Just beyond the railway bridge, we turned right onto the Christian Path. This delightful little path was new to many of us, even those that thought they knew Portobello well. We crossed Portobello High Street and took quiet back roads to the Portobello Swim Centre, where we had a cake and sweetie stop. We made our way carefully through the crowds on Portobello prom and headed towards Seafield, where Peter gave us a brief history lesson on Portobello, telling us about the open air pool, zoo and the time an elephant was paraded through the town's streets. We pressed on alongside the Forth before heading on to Leith Links. A few twists and turns through the back streets of Leith and we found ourselves at The Shore. Past Victoria Quay, behind the converted warehouses and we emerged near Ocean Terminal. From there past Asda and Newhaven Harbour, along Lower Granton Road and onto Silverknowes Esplanade which we sped along to the Cramond Falls Cafe for lunch.

Following a pleasant lunch sitting in the cafe garden, we set off to make our way back to town; knowing it wouldn't take long as most of the mileage had been covered before lunch. Before anyone had got warmed up and back into the groove, we had the stiff little climb that is School Brae to contend with. The climb over, there followed a short stretch on Whitehouse Road before turning right down Peggy's Mill Road. This lovely little road took us down to join the River Almond Walkway. Many on the group hadn't been down there before and found it to be a real treat. The briefest of detours found us on The Old Toll Bridge at Cramond Brig, where we paused for a few minutes. Up Braepark Road, across Whitehouse Road and we were back on familiar territory. Through Barnton, paths took us back to Craighleith and onto the Roseburn Path, down the zig-zags, through the Telfer subway and along the canal to Leamington Bridge. Here the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Jenny for leading an interesting ride. Despite visiting familiar locations, she kept it interesting with several unexpected twists and turns along the way. Also, a graphic illustration of what a difference the weather makes to the enjoyment of a ride. The only advantage to the March ride was hardly any pedestrians, children or dogs to steer round on the likes of Portobello or Silverknowes proms.

Leader: Jenny
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.

Monday 6 August 2018

August ride this coming Saturday

We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (11th). Jenny will be leading us on what promises to be an interesting tour of Edinburgh's waterfront, featuring such delights as the Royal Yacht Britannia, Newhaven Harbour and the Granton gasometer. The route will be similar to the one that a few of us undertook in atrocious weather back in March. I don't want to tempt fate, but whatever the weather this time round, it can't possibly be as bad as it was then.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our habitual starting point on Middle Meadow Walk. We'll have a steep climb early on, but only a couple of moderate hills after that. Almost the whole route will be on well-surfaced roads and paths, apart from a few cobbles in the Leith area. The total distance will be about 20 miles.

Our lunch stop will be the Cramond Falls café, where you can choose from a selection of soups, sandwiches and cakes. If you prefer to bring your own food, there is plenty of outside seating overlooking the River Almond. Please note: The café  does not accept cards, so be sure to bring some real money if you plan to eat there.

Another ride this month

In addition to the above ride, we've got our fourth Extra of the season on the 25th. Glenn will be leading us on what has become a standard August fixture four our group: a 45 - 50 mile round trip to the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune. I'll post further details of that outing nearer the time.